Hair-Trigger UN Inspections-A Mechanism for Starting War

Revolutionary Worker #1173, November 3, 2002, posted at

The U.S. government has embraced the idea that UN weapons inspections can be a useful opening for a war against Iraq. The U.S. plan, embodied in their latest proposal to the Security Council, has two key parts: First, the plan envisions a series of demands that the Iraqi government can't possibly satisfy. Second, it sets up a hair-trigger for war: The moment teams of UN inspectors claim that Iraq has fallen short, in some way, from these demands, the U.S. wants to announce that this is a casus belli --a formal green light for war.

And the U.S. government has decided it needs such a new casus belli . After all, few people in the world even claim to believe all the shoddy U.S. accusations against Saddam Hussein's government, and even fewer believe that they constitute a reason to launch war.

The U.S. hopes to soon have a UN Security Council resolution that sets all this in motion. And their preference is that the plan adopted by the Security Council does not require a second Council debate and resolution--after UN inspectors announce that Iraq has "failed to comply."

No country in history has faced the kinds of belligerent demands being leveled against Iraq.

Under the U.S. plan, Iraq will be told to give the UN "an acceptable and currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its programs"--in other words an inventory of its weapons development (including in "ballistic arms" which means ordinary artillery). Only after that would inspections begin.

If the inspectors find anything in Iraq that is not listed on that inventory, the U.S. would consider that a casus belli (a legitimate cause for attack).

The U.S. is demanding that inspectors be able to go anywhere unannounced. This means, in effect, a demand to allow Western observers in, to tour and study the bunkers where Iraq's leadership will seek protection from future U.S. bombs.

The U.S. plan envisions inspection teams that have their own armed force--and that are empowered (by UN resolution) to create no-fly and no-drive zones around inspection sites--which would obviously be enforced by attacks from U.S. and allied war planes.

And in a new and unprecedented demand, the U.S. argues that the UN should insist that Iraqi military scientists and their families all be publicly identified and that the inspectors should have the power to force them to leave Iraq to be interrogated.

No country in history, facing massive imminent attack by a powerful enemy, has been asked to list the locations of its weapon facilities, allow tours of command bunkers, and give over all its military experts to the interrogation of the attackers.

It is a plan that "won't take yes for an answer." And it is a plan for "hair-trigger inspections"--because they are designed to quickly and directly lead to war.

The U.S. government wants a situation timed to their war plans--where inspectors go in and relatively quickly announce that Iraq has failed some test, and this serves as a green light for immediate U.S. attack.

John Pike, at the Washington military thinktank Global Security, writes: "It's the sort of proposal meant to be rejected."

If Iraq's government even tries to comply, the U.S. and the inspectors can always find (or manufacture) some violation or provocative incident if they want. Then the inventory demanded from Iraq's government and information gathered from inspections would make it much easier for the invading U.S. forces to destroy Iraq's weapons systems and assassinate its government leaders from the air.

And finally, Secretary of State Powell says the U.S. government will never accept any resolution that does not say Iraq is already in "material breach'' of previous UN resolutions--language that the U.S. could later use to justify a unilateral move toward war.

In fact, it is the U.S. government that has and shamelessly wields the world's greatest arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction." In fact, its whole vision for the future is based on a belief that no one in the world can match (or deter) the U.S. war machine. Iraq is accused of wanting to develop a primitive nuclear device--and so is threatened with devastation by the U.S., the only country in history that actually used such weapons--to wipe out the two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

The UN's "inspection regime" is not an "alternative to war"--it is emerging as a mechanism for justifying and unleashing war. It is extremely dangerous to accept the assumption that is built into this inspection plan--that Iraq's weak arsenal is somehow "the problem" in the world today. That logic quickly leads to accepting the bloody U.S. war machine as the only available "solution" to that "problem." Those who say "give inspections a chance" will quickly find themselves slipping down a dangerous slope when the U.S. government announces "we gave inspections a chance."

It is important to think it through: Even if inspectors claim that Iraq is in violation (of rigged rules and outrageous demands), even if the United Nations gives its blessing to a U.S. attack--none of this can justify the launching of U.S. military aggression against Iraq--with all the injustice of conquest and occupation that this involves. No inspection scheme or UN resolution can be allow to cloud the need for bold and courageous resistance to these great crimes-in-the-making.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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